Last autumn/winter stumbled upon the closed beta of a niftly online RPG/MMO-type game, City of Steam. I started to play the game in the closed beta weekends, which was pretty fun. I think they game had some issues, but the level of interaction and feedback between the developers and the community was outstanding. Primarily for that reason, I bought one of their beta packs, to support them in their efforts. The game also got greenlit on Steam, which sounded like a nice potential boost for the game.
After the closed beta weekends there were a couple of months which the developers, Mechanist Games, were working on updates and additions to the game – presumably based on the closed beta feedback. During this the company also settled some deals with a few publishers for different regions. The Western hemisphere (Europe, North America) was covered by R2 Games.
And so the open beta arrived – and players met a game which some ways were significantly different from the closed beta, and in many players’ view, not for the better. There were certainly improvements also, but the “dumbed down” aspects of the game annoyed quite a few is seems.
There were also a number of bugs and the interaction and feedback from developer side decreased. Perhaps not surprising though, with a few different publishers that now had the main responsibility for the game, instead of Mechanist themselves. Additional restrictions entered the game, bugs remained unfixed, less information from developers and less happy players – unfortunately it seems to have been going a bit downhill here. Last times I managed to log in to the game there were not many people around. Recent visits show barely any activity in the forums and I was not even able to login to the game.
What happened here? Did the developers suddently start to hate the players? Are the publishers the spawn of the devil? Hardly. The enthusiasm and engagement from the developers were genuine I think and I do not think that this changed really.
But it is a business and some business-oriented decisions had to be made. That may have been in negotiations with the publishers, there may have been other investors or similar that gave some ultimatums – who knows? Decisions were made by some people who did not understand the impact of those decisions I think and mistakes were made. Rumos also say that a few of the developers left the company as well – Mechanist seemed to be quite a small developer, so that would be something that would hurt them.
Will they recover to former glory? I don’t know. Hitting players with changes that annoy people, nerf features etc and at the same time decrease communication with the players seems like a bad combination. There may be good reasons why these decisions are made, but not obvious to players. All the more reason to improve communication with the community at these times.
In a way it reminds me a bit of the situation around Chronicles of Spellborn. A neat game which had its share of issues for the gameplay, but also some quite nice and unique features. The messed up the publisher situation when going live and eventually folded. One of the publishers made some attempts to revive the game, but in the end that was futile it seemed.
I hope City of Steam recovers, but from my viewpoint it looks a bit depressing right now.
In a post in the Anarchy Online forums, Nusquam (a.k.a. Joel Bylos) posted that closed beta test will start of the new graphics engine for Anarchy Online, as well as the new starter experience. Those with an account can login and register for the beta.
If/when the player is selected for beta testing, they will get notified by email.
It has been a while; checking through my old posts it seems that the new engine development was announced in 2007 – 6 years later it finally reaches beta stage. Hopefully they may be able to get to a release stage this year (or next year…),
I have not been blogging in the past 3+ weeks, which is simply because there has been other matters – more work to handle before travelling abroad and then travelling abroad. Just returned home from a 2 week trip to California and Silicon Valley. The first week was a road trip with a few colleagues, first along highway 1 (most of the time) down to San Diego from San Francisco and then up to Yosemite and later back to San Francisco. For this part of the trip, Yosemite was the most amazing part – would have loved to spend more time there. The forest fire in Yosemite is worrying though and we did see the smoke from it in the distance.
The second week was a conference/learning journey with my employer and pretty much the whole company, with some quite interesting visits and events. It was quite an amazing and intense week; also the first time we traveled this far and were away for this long. Now I am back home, at bit jet-lagged and full of impressions and thoughts.
So a bit later this week I will probably be back with the blogging, after catching up a bit.
This weekend is a double Crystite weekend in Firefall, starting today Friday.
More details can be found on the campaign page here. Contrary to many MMOs, Firefall does not do double XP and instead double Crystite, the in-game currency. That does make sense, since there is not really any XP gating in terms of content – one can play most things right from the start. Players are not flooded with crystite though, so that makes more sense from general reward perspective.
It is also interesting to see that they have done some adjustments to make the initial experience a bit smoother also – all abilities for a battleframe are now unlocked from the start. One will still need to use XP to unlock these slots for equipment change though.
Also the amount of resources needed to craft the arcporter modulators has been cut down to 10% of the previous value (400 resources of specific types instead of the previous 4000) – and that times three, since there are once for each additional zone. I have already unlocked all of those, but I am happy to see this change. I enjoy the resource gathering and did not mind to search for and thump some of the less common resources needed. But for those that were not so much into resource gathering and crafting it must have been a bit of an obnoxious grind to get it (or cost a fair amount of crystite).
The also adjusted some of the starter-level events to actually be more likely to be soloable
A few small changes, but which may help enhance the initial experience in the game.
There are a few different ways to travel around in Firefall – running, jumping with jumpjets, going by dropship, LGV (motorbike) – and the glider. The glider is pretty neat travel option, you simply jump from a high spot and just glide through the air.
The video clip below is one jump I made from the big rock on the island outside of Copacabana – just exploring and finding spots with nice view and jumping off with a glider is pretty fun, I think. I jumped off the same spot with an LGV motorbike also – a slightly different experience (no, did not die actually…)
Stumbled upon this fan-made trailer for Age of Conan, showcasing the 12 classes in the game, by Henryx. Incredibly well made!
I thought I would make a post with some of the music scores from Firefall. I like the sound effects and music scores in general and some are really nice to listen to.
Below are a couple of samples collected through YouTube postings that people have made. Thanks to Mulgorify, Arzaker and Emabulator for their posts. Most of these come from Arzaker, who seems to have recorded a bunch of these. And also of course thanks to composer Michael Bross and sound designer Boon Sim for making the scores!
To start this post, let’s go to the login screen. This piece below may be one of the better login screen scores I have listened to, I think it is amazing.
The music that is played at login varies and a few different tunes may be played, here is another of those scores:
When you first enter the game you will get into the tutorial in the Accord Battle Lab, which has a pretty good score also. Enjoy it while it lasts, wih only one character per account there will not be many visits here ;)
Different music scores are played depending on where in the game you are. First the battleframe garage view, which is the place to switch & upgrade battleframes, gear and abilities. Also some battleframe cosmetics (warpaints) are accessible here. Then after this there will be a few music score from different locations in the game.